I am a huge fitness junkie. As a fitness advocate, ex-personal trainer, and adventure traveller, I understand the struggle between travel and fitness. Many of those who've travelled can probably attest to this as well. It is difficult.
Now don't get me wrong. There are people who can travel and still incorporate fitness into their travel life. If this is you, please contact me and tell me all your secrets.
For many others, including myself, it's, "I only workout at the gym," or "I can't afford to spend money on exercise," or "How can I workout without the gym?"
These are excuses. Excuses will be your biggest killer when it comes to achieving anything. Now I am not perfect. 'Til this day I still make excuses. However, by following rules I've set for myself and using some of the hacks I've created over the years of travelling, I am able to fight those excuses.
How to Overcome the Road Blocks
The two major road blocks to fitness while travelling are routine and money.
A great deal about fitness is routine and habit. Creating a routine eventually leads to habit. That habit is what will keep you on course and on the motivation train to continue working out. We all know once you fall off the tracks it can be very difficult to get back on. Even I find it exasperating at times to get back into routine once I've crashed and burned. The idea is to not fall off the tracks to begin with.
Now, I understand that travel and routine are as similar as night and day. Finding a consistent routine while moving from place to place poses a difficult task. However, it can be done.
Before you are even on the plane, road, boat, etc, have a set of rules already in mind. Do not mistake these as goals. These are rules not goals. Setting goals allows wiggle room for procrastination, whereas rules have been engrained in us since childhood so that you do not break rules. Setting a set of rules for yourself gives you a better chance to follow through, than if setting goals.
Know before you go. Being aware that you have set rules for yourself before you go will help you set that routine in from the beginning.
3 Rules I Follow to Keep Me Motivated to Workout While Travelling:
- Mindset — Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, before I am even on the plane I have told myself, "I will workout three days on, two days off (it can vary depending on the person, this is just what I choose)." It doesn't have to be as much as home — remember you are travelling — but you must choose something you know is attainable while travelling. If you create a rule that may be too overwhelming, it's almost guaranteed you will fall off the tracks all together.
- Day 1 of Travel, WORKOUT — Make sure to set that routine in right away. The sooner you start that routine, the sooner a habit can form. If you let it sit and wait, it'll will be much harder to commit to your rules, if at all.
- Your day doesn't start until your workout is done — I learnt this from a friend in New Zealand. It has been the perfect motto to keep me going.
This used to be my biggest excuse not to workout. It is something I can totally understand as a traveller though. Gym memberships, workout classes, yoga session, boot camps, crossfit. They all cost money, and generally much more than you are wanting to spend as a traveller.
This was a mindset I had to overcome. I valued to my workouts and I value my health, thus I had to find other ways to get a workout in, without spending exuberant amounts of money.
Here are a few hacks I found that helped me during my travels to stick to my routine, without spending an outrageous amount of money.
Travel and Fitness Hack 1:
Wave goodbye to the gym and be ready to embrace cardio, HIIT, and body weights.
I can just hear all of you squirm already. "What?" "No way!" "Never!"
I can say I had the same thoughts at first. Being a gym rat, this was difficult to accept. However, it has helped me immensely during my travels.
While I was living in Iceland, the only gym was a 45-minute drive away. By the time I went to the gym and back, I could have done three workouts at home. Not to mention is was incredibly expensive. This was when I was first forced to explore and embrace cardio, HIIT, body weight exercises.
Opening up to different varieties of fitness was the best thing I've ever done to keep up with my fitness. I found embracing these other forms of exercise will create flexibility in your choice of workout and allow you to continue exercising without being restricted to the gym.
Travel and Fitness Hack 2:
Find you can't embrace other forms of fitness? Here is a way to get to a gym membership on the cheap.
This applies to you if you are staying in one country for an extended period of time or if there is a gym that'll allow you to visit anyone of their branches, country wide.
Travelling with a partner or friend? Find a gym that allows you to bring a guest. Get yourself a membership and split the cost with your partner or friend.
While in New Zealand I joined a gym called City Fitness. City Fitness was fantastic. I could visit any branch in NZ, 24 hours a day, and with a black membership, I could bring a guest.
I was lucky enough to find someone who was willing to go halfers with me on the membership. Instead of paying the $14.00/week, I only paid $7.00. Plus, we made great accountability and workout buddies!
Travel and Fitness Hack 2.5:
Going back to finding a gym: If you are in a country for an extended period of time, find a gym that allows you to go to any of their branches. Some examples are:
- Anytime Fitness (Worldwide) - Once a member, you can go to any Anytime Fitness gym around the globe.
- Goodlife Fitness (Canada & USA)
- 24 Fitness (USA)
- City Fitness (NZ) - New Zealand's cheaper version of Steven Nash. This is the gym I went to. It's 24 hours and you can go to any branch anywhere in New Zealand.
- Jetts (Australia & NZ) - More expensive version on City Fitness. However, your membership works both in Australia and New Zealand.
If you can find one in your country, I highly recommend going this route. Not to mention, if you ever need a shower, to use the washroom or wifi, (each of the places above at least) just swipe your card and pop on in. I have done that while travelling many times.
Travel and Fitness Hack 3:
Buy in bulk. Look for punch passes.
What I mean is, buying a punch pass for ten classes is cheaper than paying for the ten classes individualy. That being said, punch cards can cost up to $150. Buying multiple passes may be the best option for you, but if you are someone like me, and it's not that practicle, find someone, could be a friend, family memeber, host, roomamte, whom already has a punch card or will get one.
Instead of paying the giant drop in fee, pay them to use one of the punch passes.
My current flatmate bought a 20-punch pass for a yoga studio over a year ago. She still had 12 classes left. I offered to pay her to use it. Since the punch pass is at a discounted rate, the class only cost me $12 instead of $20. She makes some money back and I save.
Travel and Fitness Hack 4:
Tiny gyms are your friend.
Don't want a membership? Can't afford one? Not staying in one place long enough to get one? Then tiny gyms, or community center gyms, can be your saving grace.
They are generally super cheap ($6-$8). Even though they may not have all the machines and amenities from the established branches, they will have some.
This is when YouTube becomes more than funny cat videos. Utilize the information on YouTube to find out the bazillion different ways to workout using the minimal machines tiny gyms have. You would be surprised at how much variety there is.
Travel and Fitness Hack 5:
Plan a fitness routine that you can incorporate into your travels, before you leave.
Like I said earlier, having a plan of attack before leaving is a good way to stop yourself from falling off the tracks. I found if I created a few workouts before I went, it relieved some stress of figuring out a workout on the go.
The best resource... Pinterest. On Pinterest there are hundreds of great 20 -30 minute pre-made floor exercises. You don't have to do any thinking, just follow. Not only that, but they get the muscles burning and the heart pumping without even having to leave your bedroom.
Here are a few I like to follow
- Weekly Workout Plan
- Full Body Workout
- Good Morning Leg Workout
- Tabata Workout
**There are hundreds of other options you can incorporate. These are a few I have done and liked. Also, I sometimes alter them, adding exercise or adjusting to my fitness level. You can, too.
Once I choose my exercises, I make sure I have these apps on my iPhone. These apps area all free and are Android friendly.
- Tabata HITT - I am able to combine the pre-made workouts from Pinterest with this app to really get my heart rate up, and feel I've done an hour's workout in 15 minutes.
- 7 Minute Workout - This had exercises already incorporated into the app. I find if you repeat it three times, that's 21 minutes and a full body workout.
- Nike + Run Club - During my runs, I like to use this app. It measures distance and pace. If you have data, this will also track where you have run. I find it most rewarding to review afterwards, which pushes me to get out and run.
Travel and Fitness Hack 6:
Buy a light weight rubber band.
Best $12 travel investment. At Walmart, Target, or even Amazon, you can find theses for cheap. I know it's no dumbbell or cable machine. However, it will keep those muscle moving and give you that burn. There are many full body workouts you can do with just a rubber band. What I love best about it is that takes little to no space in your backpack and is super light.
Travel and Fitness Hack 7:
Get a job at a gym.
If you have a work visa, this is a great option. Whether you are personal training, front desk, or even janitorial, most gyms have great policy where all staff get to use the facilities for free.
Not only will you be making money, but you get the luxury of a gym, free of charge.
To recap, create attainable rules, embrace a variety of forms of fitness and create a workout routine all before you go. It will make working out much easier with such variety. This will also help relieve some stress and help making the exercise routine become a habit.
There are a variety of different ways you can save money and still workout while travelling. Splitting costs with someone else, working out from your bedroom, or getting a job at a gym: all are a few ways you can save money on exercise while travelling.
These definitely aren't all the travel hacks there are, nor will they all work for you. They are just what I have used and what works for me. I hope they can be of use to you.